Planes, Flowers and Quilts

My brother visited overnight last week so I took the opportunity to grab a couple of items from his secret-pilot’s-attaché-case to use as props (no pun intended) for the latest fabric arrival – ‘Aviator’. Thanks bro’. Designed by Dan Morris this is a great collection that has a masculine feel. The range includes logos, maps and, of course, cloudy skies. We are just waiting to take flight and do something wonderful with these aircraft-inspired fabrics. 

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Unfortunately that project had to take second place as I was working on my challenge quilt all weekend. No doubt you are too! Details of the Christmas extravaganza and challenge details are here towards the bottom of the post in case you missed it.

There are other new fabric ranges arriving, it seems daily. I will have to update you with photos next time or, even better, why not pop in and check them out in person. Just to tempt you here is one new range that hasn’t even made it to the website yet. It is Tanya Whelan’s ‘Sadie’s Dance Card’

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This range is really the definition of pretty and there have been some lovely projects made with it. Here’s one idea from the designer –

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While you’re adding projects to your list don’t forget about our FOCUS (Finally Organising Chaos Using Support). Last week’s blog here really struck a chord with you and I was overwhelmed with the response. It seems, after consultation with the inaugural FOCUS group and others, that this is a bigger problem than I first thought and will need more time to resolve. So… rather than the cursory spring clean I originally suggested we are going to embrace the principles of the book (‘Organizing Solutions for Every Quilter: An Illustrated Guide to the Space of Your Dreams’ ) that we are using as a kind of textbook and go the whole hog – think major re-structuring and alteration of your cupboard/studio/mansion wing – wherever you sew.

To be a part of the group you have to purchase the book from Apatchy Quilting. Apart from that you just need patience and vision. The hard part will be done over the Christmas holidays when sewing is probably not high on the agenda and there is time it sort it all out. There is still time to join – just send me an email and you’re in.

I did promise to show you a few of the quilts from the Coorparoo Quilters’ show. As usual these shows have quilts hanging on stands that are spaced nicely to see the quilts but not to photograph them properly. So here’s what I managed –

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The quilt above was a fine example of needle turn appliqué from Cheryl Craig.imageVicki Carr made this beautiful sampler quilt and chose the perfect border.imageimage

I really like the shimmering quilt pattern and this is a fine example by Natalie Ravenswood.image

This quilt by Leith Woodall is called ‘African Dreams’.

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The Coorparoo girls have discovered the twister rulers and made a challenge out of the process.

As our challenge is ‘Nature’ I thought I would leave you with some photos from Toowoomba’s Carnival of the Flowers. Enjoy.imageimageimageimageimageimage

Until next time – happy quilting

Kaye

P.S. Wish me luck for this week’s Brisbane Craft and Quilt Fair – my Bowie quilt is in the Queensland Quilt Show.

 

The Best Way to Sort Your Stash

The second time it happened I knew I had to do something. I’d been looking for a particular fabric in my sewing room and couldn’t find it. Earlier a pattern had gone astray. I can’t understand how this could happen. Hadn’t I spent much of the Christmas holidays sorting out this room so it could become my personal creative space?  How had the ‘summer of the great de-cluttering’ possibly resulted in lost supplies? Clearly something was not right. I can’t find things easily, sometimes not at all and I don’t really use the space (that’s what architects call rooms now). New year new look? Not so much. So something has to change.

The arrival of ‘Organizing Solutions for Every Quilter: An Illustrated Guide to the Space of Your Dreams’ was promising. Although the author Carolyn Woods was not minimalist when it came to the title, her book guaranteed a system that could actually be maintained. It is just a matter of working through the chapters in an orderly fashion.

And so it was decided. But things are usually more fun in a group (or should that be ‘misery loves company’) and I was thinking that maybe you have the same problems. Maybe you can’t find things easily either. Or maybe you’re room/studio/cupboard isn’t working for you. Perhaps you have too much stuff(as unlikely as that sounds).

How would you like to get organised and back on track with new projects? It is a perfect time for a ‘spring clean’ after all. We could meet once a week/fortnight/month (or maybe base this whole thing online or via emails or Facebook) and work through the mess. Firstly we need a name. Let’s call our group ‘Focus’ (Finally Organising Chaos Using Support).  To join Focus you will have to buy Carolyn’s book from us and this will serve as our textbook. Together with the book though, there will be extra notes, tips and ideas and special deals. We can share our experiences and suggestions. Photos would be nice (we promise we won’t judge you). Before and afters will be mandatory! Let me know if you would like to participate and how you would like to receive your information.

Some things at Apatchy are already organised. Here’s a few:-

The Christmas party will be held at Scot’s Presbyterian Church Hall on Saturday 3rd December from 10am to 2pm. This will be the event to celebrate our achievements this year, see old friends and view the entries for this year’s challenge. (I told you about it here – the theme is ‘Nature’. No I haven’t worked out what I’m doing yet either – I can’t find the damn fabric. It’s lost in my sewing room somewhere!. All entries must be in to me by 2nd December so we can display them correctly.

As well as the challenge we will also be having a ‘Secret Santa’ again this year. This time the ‘rules’ are a little different. The gift should be a handmade Christmas decoration. You are welcome to buy one if you don’t think you have the time/talent/inclination to make one. Just keep the spending under $20. As well as providing the gift we want to know who’s who so this year would you note on a card that it is from you i.e. “To my Secret Santa from xxx (xxx being your name. I mean actually write your real name not just x’s) . Many people wanted to thank those who have been their secret Santa’s in the past but there was never any evidence as to who that was. This time there will be.

Some Apatcheez have been getting ready for Christmas already. Here’s two sets of tableware that Margaret finished –

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Now that’s great use of the Christmas postcard fabric.

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Sorry about the background green in that photo – I should have used something a bit more muted.

Estelle finished another large quilt – yes that was her with two finishes last blog post.

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This one looks much better in person when it’s not dragging on the ground. I think we need taller photographer’s assistants!

Now Faith was never going to let Estelle win the ‘UFO’s finished’ race without a fight and she brought two beauties to show us:-

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That last one is her version of the farmer’s wife quilt. It really needs to be seen to be appreciated. If you came to the classes you would see these beautiful projects. just saying…

Speaking of farmers, last blog post I also told you about our impending visit to Laidley for the Spring Festival. As always we had great fun at this event and we managed to sneak away for a few moments to photograph some of the beautiful quilts in the church. Here is just a taste:-

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That green quilt on the wall would be our Jan’s creation!

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This lady had multiple entries in the show – and they were all spectacular.

The Royal Australian Navy band played for us –

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And anyone who is anyone was there –

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Next time make sure you come along too.

To finish off I thought I’d leave you with a picture of spring at Apatchy. These birds were made by our own bird lady Chris. Aren’t they so sweet!

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Until next time happy quilting

Kaye

 

 

 

New Year new look

Hello and welcome to Apatchy’s 2016.

Are you sick of seeing blogs with free printable monthly planners (too late January’s almost gone)? Or advice on how to achieve your goals for this year?  What about ideas for organising your creative craft room (and what else would a craft room be if not creative?)? And then there’s the comprehensive storage ideas to maximise space (which means minimise your cash by buying ‘storage solutions’ to load up the beast that has become your stash).

Ok so I’m being sarcastic and I know it’s easy to be side-tracked from your goals – technology alone offers so many distractions (I’m talking about the hours you spend on Pinterest or surfing the net for inspiration). As it happens I have mapped out my goals for 2016. I thought about it very carefully and settled on a three-phase approach to improving life. The first aspect was ‘to create an orderly life’ (the others are health and creativity). I had broken those goals into manageable segments and wrote to do lists and so on.

Surprise, surprise an extreme makeover for the whole of the Apatchy space was on the cards. The first job was to clear the storeroom (junk room) which was at the point where, if you opened the door, something may have fallen on your head.

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So everything came out of the room (and the photo above is about halfway through the process so it was actually much worse).  Furniture was re-located, walls, ceiling and floor scrubbed and ta-da – a clean slate.

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Somehow in the clearing of this area a cunning plan suggested itself – why not make that room the craft room I had been complaining of not having for years? Indeed the light was adequate and the space was not huge but should be sufficient for a table, a couple of shelves and the odds and ends that come with this quilting life.

At this point I have spent three weeks going through my stash and have religiously culled, donated, tossed, filed and labelled all of it. Cupboards have been re-purposed and tubs are colour-coded. I wanted to have all my supplies together rather than spread through various rooms of the house. Unfortunately the metamorphosis of this room led to collateral damage to all the other rooms to the extent that even the garage was affected and we couldn’t park cars there for several days.

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Things are still not quite there yet but the light at the end of the tunnel is now a soft glow in the distance.

One of the problems with this exercise is that I needed assistance – and Luvvy was there. Now the problem with this is – the husband is the natural enemy of the stash. And while his help was appreciated he now knows the full extent of the stash. This can’t be good. There was some discussion about how several children could have been sent to private schools with the investment in fabric. And there were prophecies such as “if you live to be 95 years of age there’s no way you’ll even use half of this”. And then the teenager-in-residence assisted the discussion by suggesting that the television series ‘Hoarders’ may be interested in doing a show here. Unbelievers just don’t get the zen of stash building do they?

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Those of you who know me well will also know that the minimalist approach to life is not one to which I ascribe. As quilters, many of us are used to the wonderful pastime of collecting fabric and for some it is an obsession.  Imagine if you actually owned a quilt shop! For this activity though, I went through each tub – each fat quarter, each piece of yardage, each kit and each scrap. As Marie Kondo taught us in ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ I asked myself “Does this bring me joy?” If not out it went.

Now there may be one or two items that might well stay in the bottom of the bin until the next great de-cluttering and I’m not exactly sure when I will use all of those tubs of fabric and I may not immediately have a use for the multiple tape measures I found during the exercise but I was very virtuous and only used the tubs and shelves that I had. Most of the surfaces are now tidy but I have added so many items to my to-do list the simplified life is a long way off. Luvvy is still not convinced.

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Someone once suggested to me that if we spent as much time sewing as we did trying to organise our sewing supplies we would be a lot more productive (thanks Deb). That’s true and one casualty in this whole exercise has been creativity.

The creativity part of my 2016 goals has not yet had a chance to shine – in fact, apart from a craft room there hasn’t been any creativity whatsoever. I did toy with the idea of challenging myself to make handmade gifts for everyone this year but since No 1 son had his birthday last week it seemed to be a moot point. At least the health is a little better. With all that exercise re-arranging rooms surely I must be much fitter.

How are you going with your 2016 goals? And don’t forget to let me know the status of last year’s UFO list. And this year’s.

I’m looking forward to classes starting again on 2nd February and hope to have everything ‘just so’ by then. (Don’t forget that this year there is no Wednesday evening class.) I hope you’ll like the results when the ‘reveal’ shows the new space – well the old space re-arranged – because the fabric room and classroom also had a little mini-makeover too. Oh and there’s more fabric because there’s been parcels arriving this week. And some new ideas too. And even more fabric…bring me another tub!

Until then happy quilting

Kaye

Top Quilting Tips No. 2 – A Class Act

In the ‘Countdown to classes‘ series here’s number –

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Today I want to talk about classes and why you should attend one on a regular basis. As far as Apatchy Quilting goes I always envisaged that it would be a haven away from the stresses of everyday life as well as a quilting venue that nurtures creativity and inspiration. This is why I try to encourage everyone to think positively and why I discourage negative talk at classes – because it discourages people.

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I was sad to hear that Rod McKuen died this week – I loved his poetry from the time I was a teenager. This portion of the poem ‘A Safe Place to Land‘ reflects what I feel about Apatchy:

“There should be some silence in this place so thought can harvest things it’s lately caught. I hope that you will take this as a resting space. A bench provided just before the clearing up ahead.”

Linda Steele is an award-winning quilter. She put together a list of 10 reasons to belong to a group. I couldn’t have put it better myself so here is her list:

1. Inspiration

Who cannot help but be inspired by other peoples quilts.

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2. Information

In our busy world it is impossible to keep up with everything going on.

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3. Camaraderie

Sewing and quilting can be a solitary activity. Of course we all need time alone to prepare, design and achieve but it’s good to show others what we are doing as well.

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4. Critique

Honest feedback is hard to find in the quilting world. Family and friends are too close and often don’t have the expertise. This is where a  group with the skill to articulate and use the principles of Art and Design as their base is invaluable.

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5. Insight

Everyone’s work is different and it is very interesting to see how other people  approach a theme or idea.

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6. Competition

Nothing spurs you on like a little bit of friendly competition.

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7. Support

Designing your own quilts and entering competitions can be tough and  rejection is common. This is where groups can offer understanding, commiseration and encouragement.

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8. Purpose

Self-esteem is often built on achievement and finishing a quilt or helping organise an activity is very rewarding.

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9. Confidence

Advising, listening, supporting and sharing with others have the advantage of boosting our own confidence.

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10. Friendship

I have met so many wonderful people including online friends through my quilting groups.

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Exactement! My thoughts too.

See you on Tuesday and Wednesday 9:30am to 12:30 for the day class or 6:00pm to 9:00pm for the evening class if you’re a night owl. Be there or be square.

Until tomorrow

Happy Quilting

Kaye

If you have missed any of the Countdown to Classes series here are the links:

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Top Quilting Tips – No 3 – Nuts and Bolts

In our countdown to classes series here is number

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Nuts and bolts – well no bolts yet – that’s for later. Your task today is to:

Make sure your toolbox is packed and ready for action

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As with any activity you could spend a lot of money on lots of gadgets and tools but, for quilting I think you really only need a few. Apart from the operational sewing machine, thread and an iron we talked about in previous posts (see below for links), here’s what should be in your toolbox:-

Rotary Cutter – the first rotary cutter was manufactured by Olfa in 1979. Before that quilters had to try to cut accurately with scissors which must have been a nightmare. So you could say rotary cutters put a whole new spin on things (get it?).

Now although Olfa invented the beast I prefer this type:

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I’ll tell you why – they have a safety lock like pretty well all rotary cutters BUT these ones engage when you apply pressure for cutting. That means you don’t have to REMEMBER to slide the catch up each time you put the thing down.

Make sure you have a new blade – it will change your life it really will. If you are missing part of a cut or hear a noise it’s time to change the blade. You should be able to cut through fabric EASILY. Rotary cutters are just circular razor blades so if it isn’t going well it’s new-blade-time. That should keep your rotary cutter spinning around round baby right round.

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Oh and remember what I just said – they are round RAZOR BLADES – that means they are DANGEROUS so be careful when you change the blade and make sure you dispose of the old one sensibly.

Scissors – the rotary cutter revolutionised quilting but you’ll still need a pair of scissors or two. One larger pair for jobs like cutting the edges of a quilted top before binding it. And maybe a small pair to use for snipping threads. Keep your scissors for cutting fabric only as paper is the natural enemy of the scissor. You have been warned.

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Pins – use fine flat-headed pins for your piecing and teeny appliqué pins for, well – appliqué. Go through your supplies and ditch any pins that are bent or blunt as they can damage your work. And a pincushion is useful at this point too.

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Plus you might want to invest in a magnetic pickup device or a telescopic magnetic retrieval pen as it is more precisely called. Whatever it’s called get one so you can easily find those stray pins on the floor before they find someone’s foot.

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Seam Ripper – no matter how careful you are there’s going to be some reverse sewing at some stage and you’ll need a seam ripper. Invest in a good one. I like the brown-handled Clover ones because they’re very sharp (naturally) and the little ball stops it from damaging fabric when you get a bit carried away. Using a cheap one will only end in tears. Enough said.

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Rulers – there are hundreds of rulers available. You don’t need them all! If you want to do homework (and you will) you’ll need a 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler – long enough to cut through a length of fabric.

To square up your blocks use a 12 1/2″ square or 14 1/2″ square ruler.

I’d also suggest a 6 1/2″ square ruler to make life easier for you.

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Mat – be kind to your cutting mat for although it can heal itself from cuts it does not cope with many things in the sewing room – like heat (don’t get it hot or it will warp) or being warped (don’t store it upright with the weight on itself or it will warp). The manufacturers reckon you should soak them in cool water but, as I have a large mat, where can that be done while keeping it flat?

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Also – if you cut 8,435,723 pieces of fabric at the same spot (say the 1/2 metre mark) your mat will eventually wear and you might consider investing in a new one before you saw through your cutting table and amputate your toes!

To start I would recommend a mat 24″ x 36″ because you can cut through a length of fabric folded in half. If you are stretched for space you could get by with a smaller one but, what can I say, size matters!

I also like the spinning mats because it makes it easier to trim small pieces and is particularly useful when you are doing paper piecing (or foundation piecing).

Can you believe that you can make a quilt with just the tools above? Well you can’t! You also need the things we’ve talked about in the last few posts. Oh and one more thing – if you don’t already know – quilting is addictive. You will want to keep going once you start. This means you need a comfortable chair when you’re sewing – one that helps your posture and takes the pressure of your back and shoulders. A set-up like the one below is recommended. I also like the chair with castors because you can swivel to your cutting mat, then to the machine, then the iron in a cut-sew-press kind of routine. Oh and as you swivel round you can pretend you’re in Star Wars on the Millennium Falcon fighting the Imperial troops just before you jump to light speed (or is that just me?).

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And there’s two more things you need but you’ll have to stay tuned for those….

Until tomorrow

Happy Quilting

Kaye

If you’ve missed any of the countdown just click here to catch up:-

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Top Quilting Tips – No. 4 – A Pressing Problem

In our countdown to classes series here is number

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So we all know that pressing is an important part of quilting and that, to perfect your technique, you need to develop a mutually- satisfying relationship with your iron.

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Maybe you never owned an iron before you started quilting. Maybe you iron everything including the underwear. Maybe you have shunned ironing as the result of a bad experience when you had to iron 48 shirts in one day.

Whatever your experience, when you are quilting your iron needs to be performing at its peak to get you where you’re going. The irons of the quilting world serve us well but we often take advantage of them. I have left TWO irons on all day on more that one occasion – points for consistency but that’s it.

So here’s today’s task:

Give your iron the once over it deserves.

If your iron doesn’t have a self-cleaning function (can I get one of those for the house?) you’ll have to do it yourself. To start, give it a good clean with a damp cloth. That’s after you make sure it’s turned off of course.

If you’ve accidentally pressed the vlisoflex or some stabiliser on the wrong side and the sticky remains are still visible on the plate then now’s the time to give it a good clean with something more than water.

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I’ve read that you can use methylated spirits for this but I just use the commercial iron cleaner you buy from the supermarket. By cleaning the plate you can ensure your next project doesn’t get ruined. Don’t take to it with harsh abrasives or steel wool. There’s no need to be violent. Follow the instructions on the pack and you can’t go wrong.

Now I’ve also read that you should clean the water tank with diluted vinegar. I just use distilled water all the time and don’t get the mineral deposits that require this sort of cleaning.

Don’t store your iron face down because it doesn’t like it. Make sure you leave it for 15 minutes to cool down before you put it away and don’t wrap the cord (if it’s got one) around the plate – wrap it around the base.

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Now about the surface on which you iron – it should be tall enough that you don’t get back strain. Maybe you can use a portable board strategically placed between the cutting board and the sewing machine if you’re doing fiddly piecing and you don’t feel you could benefit from getting up every 30 seconds to walk to the ironing board because you’re already trim, taut and terrific…just a thought.

Maybe you could do as Ricky Timms suggests and make an ironing table out of plywood covered with batting and then heavy fabric stapled to the base. The blog sew many ways have a tutorial on how to build this one-

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Or maybe you already improvise. Have you improvised? Do tell.

How to press is something that we cover in class. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of using steam and other things seemingly more sinister

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For today we’re just looking after the equipment. Maybe you should take a before and after photo of your iron.

Until tomorrow

Kaye

If you’ve missed any of our countdown just click on the links here:

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Top Quilting Tips – No. 6 – Pimp Your Machine

In our countdown to the start of quilting here’s tip number 6

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OK your sewing machine has been dusted and cleaned but what about some customisation? You personalise your other possessions. Do you have those family stickers on the back windscreen of the car? Do you have the personalised address labels for your snail mail? Have you put a little dangly charm on your phone? Then what about your sewing machine?

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Don’t laugh – one of my customers who runs a retreat at Lake Tahoe – ooh there’s an excursion waiting to happen – tells me that all the girls buy Singer Featherweights for retreats and take them to an auto shop for a custom body spray.

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Now down here in Oz I haven’t seen something quite so drastic but here’s my Top 5 suggestions…

1. Antenna Toppers – not the foxtail please. No sewing machines don’t actually have aerials but think outside the box and you come up with a thread holder. You will need one if you’re using special thread such as metallic or even some of our lovely Wonderfil Mirage (Intentional Product Endorsement there did you notice?).

Now I’m not talking about putting the spool of thread in a coffee cup beside your machine (just me?). What you need is a proper stand-alone spool holder.

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I use one of these and find that it makes my sewing, especially thread painting, SEW much easier.

2.  Bumper stickers – No I’m not suggesting you cover Betsy with ‘My Other Machine is a Bernina’ or ‘Ask Me About Sewing’ – actual stickers I kid you not.

Rather than shame your machine think practical. The most practical I know are the Qtools Sewing Edge.

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These little beauties stick to the plate on your machine to help you guide fabric towards the perfect 1/4″ seam. And don’t think it’s only beginners who can benefit from these babies. When you’re driving on into the night your eyeballing may not be what it once was.

3. Under The Bonnet – you checked your bobbins in yesterday’s task so now you need to check your needles.

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Working with worn or bent needles will only give you grief. We’re talking tension problems or stitches dropped or shredded. The size of the needle has to match the fabric you’re using as well as the thread. I can see we’ll have to talk more about this.

4. Covers – not seat covers or wheel covers but a cover for your machine. Let’s face it – the rigid white covers that come with the vehicle are very ho-hum. So here is your chance to really individualise your machine AND add a project to your UFO list. Create that Wow factor by making a sewing machine cover that says you. Here’s one I saw in France and I bought the kit so it’s on my list AND I’ve actually started the project.

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Maybe you want to be practical

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or maybe a little more whimsical

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Here’s your chance to make a cover that says you. It can be retro, modern, bright, neutral – whatever tales your fancy. In true how-do-I-look style you can chang your ride from a fashion victim to a fashionista.

 5. Lights – so your car might have headlights, tail lights, fog lights, bumper lights and brake lights. What makes you think you don’t need to see as clearly when you’re accelerating through a section of chain stitching or a particularly tricky foundation pieced project?

You don’t necessarily need a miner’s light but hey – if it works:

Maybe a laser light (say what?):

Try to use ambient and task lighting with some magnification if you need it. Daylight light is best (you can buy bulbs with this feature – we have them in the classroom – who knew?). We don’t want you to end up with eye strain so watch those peepers.

Until tomorrow

Happy Quilting

Kaye

Missed some of the series – click on the links here to take you back

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